- Brazil’s FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers take place in April
- Marta enjoyed a strong return to USA’s national league in 2017
- Five-time world player of the year says she has no retirement plans
With an ever-increasing pool of players across the world excelling, Brazil superstar Marta may not claim as many accolades as in years gone by. But the five-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year - arguably the most prominent historical name in women’s football - has lost little of her ability at the top level.
Marta’s return to the USA’s domestic competition for the first time in six years was a massive success. Parachuted into Orlando Pride’s line-up just in time for the new season, Marta responded with 13 goals and six assists – second in both categories across the league. Marta was also named in the CONCACAF and the NWSL teams of the year.
Vastly experienced Orlando Pride coach Tom Sermanni said Marta has “lost none of her ability or passion for the game.” Now 31, Marta still boasts a sharp turn of speed and plays with a tempo that speaks of a rare hunger for success.
Anyone who thinks the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in France will be Marta’s swansong may have to reassess. “As I can’t predict tomorrow, I can’t say if it will be my last World Cup,” Marta told FIFA.com. “I try to live each day and each moment.
“I need to work hard every day so I can be there very well. Only time will tell if it will be my last World Cup.”
South American competition
Brazil experienced a busy 2017 playing numerous international matches, albeit not without challenges. Several hefty defeats saw Emily Lima replaced by the returning Vadao. Since then Brazil have won four and drawn one of their five outings.
Next on the radar are April’s South American qualifiers for France 2019, where only two automatic tickets up are for grabs. A third will play-off against a CONCACAF opponent. The depth of quality across South America has increased significantly in recent years, with the likes of Colombia and Venezuela making a real impact, especially at youth level.
“It is a transition time for us, with new work and new players,” said Marta, on what Brazil’s aims would be should they qualify for France 2019. “But the goal is the same: to score and to play well.
“And of course arrive in the World Cup very strong and fight for the title as always. It is a competition that is very important to us. And the important thing is that we have been working very hard.
“The level will be very hard too. We have been playing against many national teams and what we see is that women's soccer is developing really well all around the world.”
World Cup queen
Marta is sure to be a headline attraction at France 2019, should Brazil qualify. After all, this is a player that is Women’s World Cup royalty. A tally of 15 goals in 17 World Cup outings makes Marta the tournament’s highest-ever goalscorer – a record that is set to stand for some time.
Should she make it all the way to a sixth World Cup in 2023, Marta will equal a mark set by compatriot Formiga and Japan’s Homare Sawa.
Regardless of when her playing career finally ends, expect Marta to still be involved in the game in one form or other. “It is hard to live a whole life playing football and when you stop playing [say] you won’t do anything regarding it,” Marta said, when asked would she remain involved in the game post-playing career.
“There are many players that lived very good moments in the game and are now still involved in the game in one way or other. My thought is to be around women's soccer to help it to develop and make more girls and women play.”